Don’t Fall Short Of Your Goals, Fall At All, Or Think Someone Will Be There To Catch You

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Last updated on October 24, 2023

Bring Your Home Based Balance Training To the Beach and Beyond

This blog is for you if you are over 30 plus years old because your physical strength and muscle mass is on the decline unless you are doing something about it. “Sarcopenia used to be recognized as an aging-related disease. Nowadays, it is known that the decrease in muscle mass function and quality start at ~40 years and that sarcopenia often appears earlier in life.” -1 The sooner you get on board with a strength training program the better. Age related muscle loss is a big deal and I suggest it’s never too early or too late to get strong.

Is your strength related to your balance? 

Do we fall because we are not strong?

Falling is a predictor of longevity, and in fact so is walking speed. Slow gait speed has been identified as an independent risk factor for all-cause mortality.-2 I believe they are related as I witness many people walking slower to be careful and not to fall.  Walking slowly decreases the overall benefits from walking at all, and then your overall health declines. It's a compounding problem that statistically puts you into the assisted categories of walking, living and dying.

Who will be there to catch you when you fall? Relying on an overburdened healthcare system, family that may or may not have the resources of time or money to help you, and the private system that may be there if you have $15,000 a month to spend. It’s time to think about what you can do for yourself on the prevention side of this issue.

We continue to see the statistics rise and accept the toll the consequences of falling take on our personal health and wellbeing.

There are many things that can increase your risk of falling. (Tripping hazards, poor eyesight and circulation, medications, poor foot health, loss of attention, and loss of strength to name a few.)  Some of these things you can control and some you can’t. Failing to address your physical health and its relationship to your longevity is something you can control. It’s incumbent upon you to look at your physical strength and stop thinking it won’t happen to you, or it's too late to try to get stronger.

Back in 1983 when I was in Nursing School I learned that “older people” walked with less speed and confidence, sometimes resulting in a fall. As a result of the fall we then see injuries such as broken wrists, shoulders, and hips that result in trips to the hospital, surgical repair and the potential for many dire consequences related to the fall. (Problems related to surgical repair, infection, pneumonia, and premature death.)

Fast Forward 40 years ... .and take a read through the Surveillance report on falls among older adults in Canada Yikes, not much has changed.

We all have the advantage of being young, but not all get the privilege of being old! -3

I’m moving forward with you through the decades of life with the knowledge that I continue to expand and share because we need this. We all need more movement, care, and hope that we can house ourselves in the best physical body possible. Our journeys are unique, but our desire to be healthy, disease and pain free, and be as independent as possible are universal. You are not alone on your journey.

Do you have a fear of falling?

I dare say you should as 1 in 4 falls over the age of 65 result in death within 1 year.

Why have we not addressed this issue as a nation? Think of the health care expenses!

“Sarcopenia leads to a worse quality of life and higher economic burden and health care cost.”-5

Falls among older adults continue to be a serious public health issue in Canada. Emergency Department visit and mortality rates show upward trends, and the number of Canadians aged 65 or older requiring hospital admission for fall-related injuries is growing.- 4

I know the exercises that will help this problem but sadly we are not making them available to many. People are in pain and are living in their own musculoskeletal crisis with nowhere to turn to for the right advice. I have found that healthcare practitioners can’t agree on the right advice - so it’s no wonder we are in crisis.

Is why we fall over just a lack of the right exercises? It’s not as simple as that but doing the right exercises and getting stronger is certainly going to help. I had a client recently ask me online, “Is balance strength training, or is strength balance training? 

Strength is a component of balance but there are other variables to having good balance such as your proprioception or how your brain senses your connection to the ground. That makes me think about how important taking care of your feet becomes, especially with medical conditions that compromise circulation.

Our visual and vestibular (Inner ear) systems also are a component of your balance - so in balance drills aimed to improve balance I often play with tasks that challenge these systems and allow the brain and body time to figure it out. Practicing balance drills for a few minutes a day really does work over time. Within safe limits we want to be challenged so our brain and movement (motor) control improves.

“If you don’t have healthy muscles you won’t have healthy bones,” -6

- says Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou, Professor in the Department of Medicine at McMaster University in her Webinar: Promoting Bone Health: Falls, Osteoporosis, and Fracture Prevention

Falls and fall-related injuries among older adults are preventable. -7

I believe strength training can have a positive impact on age related muscle loss (Sarcopenia) and loss of bone density. Strength training 2-3 times a week sounds good but just how can we integrate that into our lives? One of the positive things about training online with a live personal trainer is convenience. You need to dedicate time to do your strength training. The easier and more time efficient it can be will translate into more compliance, and that’s where the magic lies to get you the results you are looking for. It’s very convenient to tune into a Zoom class where you have the opportunity to ask questions, follow a training program  and scale the exercises to your fitness level and needs. Receiving the feedback and support you need instills confidence in your efforts and improves the quality of your movements. It’s a positive feedback loop! 

As we get older it becomes harder to put on muscle. Professor of exercise science Dr. Brad Schoenfeld tells us why in this interview: How To Stay Strong As Your Age.

As we age we all have many things that get in the way of just doing a strength training program. Underlying medical conditions, wear and tear, pain, old injuries and surgeries are a few that come to mind. Find a trainer that can modify the exercises and tailor a program to your needs. Let’s work on strategies to improve the way you move, conquer our fears of falling and keep our walking speed for longevity. 

We know the burden of falls is substantial but with any luck it won’t happen to you because you are making time to prioritize your health and work on lifestyle modifications that all contribute to your wellbeing. Be part of your own solution and explore how the Movement Garden can help you become a stronger version of yourself. 

Working on your strength, mobility, balance, core, and cardiovascular system from the comfort of your own home is in your control and will significantly decrease your risk of falling.  Our community is growing and we would love to have you join us for a class or private session soon.

Don’t Fall Short of Your Goals! 

Written by: Sheila Hamilton Copyright Oct 2023

Grow Your Strength, Lift Your Spirits, and Cultivate Your Health with us at the Sheila Hamilton Movement Garden.

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A former Registered Nurse turned Personal Trainer, Sheila has dedicated herself to the ongoing learning of being a fitness professional. Making fitness a lifestyle and supporting her clients through the changes needed to reach their goals is her purpose and passion. Certified with many organizations Sheila has a special interest in the practice of kettlebell training.

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